KIEV, Dec 4 (AFP): Russian gas exports to Europe will not be affected by a gas price dispute between Moscow and Kiev, which will be resolved by year's end, President Viktor Yushchenko told reporters Friday.
Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads for weeks over Moscow's plans to phase out subsidised gas prices for Ukraine and bring them in line with world market rates.
Officials in Moscow have said the dispute could endanger deliveries of Russian gas exports to Europe, which pass through Ukraine.
Under an existing barter system, Russia provides Ukraine with nearly a third of its annual gas needs as payment for transit of its European gas exports, with a base price of 50 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters.
Moscow has insisted on switching to cash payments and said it wants to hike the price to 160 dollars (136 euros) per 1,000 cubic metres (35,000 cubic feet) of gas. Kiev insists on either keeping to the existing system or gradually phasing in a price increase.
"I think it is a political decision. There is no economy there," Saakashvili told reporters.